PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District has launched an effort to encourage and facilitate taxpayer letters and emails to elected officials in support of full aid, stressing that the district has lost over $145 million in state aid since 2008.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recently announced budget does not provide relief for 2016-17. It will be up to Sen. George Latimer and Assembly member Steve Otis to fight on the district's behalf for funding before the budget is finalized in March.
Latimer and Otis ask residents to sign the district’s petition and letters as they negotiate in the coming weeks with fellow legislators and the governor for the aid funding the district is due. Thanks to their work, $2.7M in additional aid was obtained in the last three years.
The district has created an online petition in English and Spanish. It also has created sample letters/emails and backgrounders to explain the ins and outs of state aid over the past eight years.
“We have been underfunded by the state to the tune of $145.5 million over the past eight years,” said Edward A. Kliszus, superintendent of schools. “During this same period, our enrollment has grown by 619 students.”
The state supplies unrestricted aid to schools under a per-student formula called “Foundation Aid.” Foundation Aid was established in 2007 to meet the state’s legal obligation to ensure that all districts could provide a “sound, basic education” for their students. It was supposed to be phased in over four years, but Albany froze the Foundation Aid at 2008-09 levels. This has caused districts with growing enrollment to stretch their aid dollars over larger numbers of students while those with declining enrollment (most districts in the state) are able do more with the same aid.
Port Chester is designated as a “high needs” district, with 72 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch and 28 percent requiring English Language Learner services.
Click here to sign the online petition . (search “Port Chester NY Schools”)